Le Beau Serge (1958)
as The priest
as Madame Chaunier
as Michel, the doctor
as The Baker
as Jacques Rivette de la Chasuble
as La Truffe
Critic Reviews for Le Beau Serge
It presents a bleak, beautifully observed picture of provincial life, later revisited to even more stunning effect in Le Boucher.
An important new French director, Claude Chabrol, is unveiled in this pic.
It has a certain fascination as Chabrol's first practical (as opposed to critical) encounter with mise en scene.
Part mock-neorealist homoerotic foxtrot, part obsessively symmetrical Cahiers du Cinéma analysis of Hitchcock's I Confess
Chabrol didn't work out his film-making kinks until his next pictures.
Audience Reviews for Le Beau Serge
If this was the first film of the French New Wave I cannot really say, but it was the first of the Chabrol's fascinating career, with great performances and a gorgeous cinematography, and presenting us a bleak portrait of human decadence in a provincial town.
Claude Chabrol's feature debut, "Le Beau Serge," isn't as strong as his subsequent "Les Cousins" (which stars the same two actors), but it's still an engrossing, thoughtful look at love and friendship. Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) is a sensitive young man who returns to his small village after a debilitating lung illness. Sadly, he finds his once-promising friend Serge (Gerard Blain) deteriorated into drunken misery. Serge has a lousy job, a bad attitude and a sad relationship with a pregnant wife whom he doesn't love. Francois (who has a faint messiah complex) has unrealistic ambitions to inspire Serge and the other townsfolk out of their resigned mundanity, but trouble starts when he courts a wanton teenager (Bernadette Lafont) with a belligerent, jealous caretaker. "Serge" seems a bit soft when compared with many other French New Wave films -- especially given its somewhat syrupy, intrusive score -- but Lafont's sexy, calculating character adds some edge. Watch for assistant director Philippe de Broca (later, a successful filmmaker on his own) briefly appearing as a friend knowingly named "Jacques Rivette." Warning: The TCM print I saw had two surprising external flaws. The lazy subtitles opted to skip far too much "trivial" dialogue, and the film image had some notable blemishes in the last 15 minutes. In a work only dating from the late 1950s, the latter seems inexcusable.
Le Beau Serge is the first film by Claude Chabrol and in his debut creates a wonderful Drama with solid acting and amazing artistic characteristics. The film which was shot in his own childhood village really adds to the feel of the story and made for a beautiful location. In one of the supplementary features the Director now in his old age talks about going back there and how he does so often. Many of the actors meet one another in the village where many still reside to this day, what a fascinating and wonderful place! The story is one that is very down to earth and focuses on tough and emotional topics and make it a heart wrenching watch that is wonderful to view. This is a hugely influential film in the French New Wave, some argue it's the first, but either way it is truly a fascinating gem!
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